World Cities Revision Notes

Revision notes including case studies

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World Cities
The Global Pattern
Types of City
Millionaire city: a city with over one million inhabitants - 578 such cities
Mega city: metropolitan area with a total population in excess of 10 million. Could be a result of one
metropolitan area converging with another (urban sprawl) - 27 such cities
World city: a city that acts as a major centre for finance, trade, business, politics, culture, science,
information gathering and diffusion, publishing and mass media and all of the associated activities -
serving not just a country or region but the whole world e.g. New York, London and Tokyo
World cities are resource centres:
o Companies need access to knowledge in order to grow which can be found in cities
o Two kinds of knowledge: codified which is carried and spread by technology and
tacit which depends on discussion and face to face contact.
World cities are learning centres:
o Companies have to be part of networks of learning that exist in clusters e.g.
o World cities can be seen as `learning regions', `smart cities', `science cities' or
`creative hubs'.
World cities are centres of spatial proximity
o Tacit knowledge far easier if there is a high concentration of people and
opportunities for interaction and knowledge sharing
Three characteristics of world cities:
1. Shed a lot of their routine to other cities and countries
2. High levels of synergy in their economic structures
3. Offer a wide range of jobs however have a tendency towards a polarised labour force with
an increasing spatial distribution in types of residential areas.
In 1960: 9 of the world's biggest cities were in developing countries, however by 2008, 48 out of
the 68 cities with population of over 5 million were located in developing countries. This is as a result
of high rates of natural increase and very high rates of rural to urban migration.
Europe's Urban Hierarchy
Cities tend to compete with one another and a distant hierarchy exists. In Europe this is particularly
evident and London is the only indisputable world city in Western Europe with Paris not far behind.

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Below them are normal capital cities and some specialised cities. All are smaller with populations of
1-4 million. They compete with the world cities for their specialised functions e.g. Brussels, Rome and
Geneva for government or Milan for design. Euro cities form a tight inner circle forming the National
Capitals Region which all have convenient radii for face to face contact by air or train.…read more

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Urbanisation has been happening in South America, Asia and Africa since the mid-20th
As with Europe many people have been pushed from the countryside by poverty, unemployment,
hunger and lack of opportunity and pulled to the cities by hope of jobs, or the hope they can survive
in the informal economy. However there is often a shortage or work, or very poorly paid work and
still a lack of housing and other infrastructure e.g. education, health care, sewers and water supply.…read more

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They can account for up
to 40% of the labour force but earning and living standards are low.
The centre of cities contains the homes of the upper and middle classes. Beyond the
middle class suburbs, the more recent suburbs have haphazard housing and fewer
services. On the edge of the city is squatter housing however there are some areas of
more established shanty housing that extends towards the city centre.…read more

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However living conditions are very poor with sights and smells that are unknown to the
It is a hive of activity with a large number of thriving small-scale industries that produce
embroidered garments, export quality leather goods, pottery and plastic. Most of these are
made in tiny manufacturing units and are often made from salvaged and recycled materials
(80% of waste is recycled by 35000 rubbish bag pickers).
In most of the houses there is a cooking gas stove, electricity and usually a television.…read more

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Families could afford their own horse and carriage so could still work in the city centres
Transport development such as trams, underground railways and cars made it possible for
more and more people to live further from the centre.…read more

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Counterurbanisation is highly age and income selective and there are 3 distinct groups instrumental in
the population turnaround:
1. Commuters ­ improvements in transport especially the growth in private car ownership
since the 1960s have enabled greater division of home and work. In the case of workers still
working in urban areas, counterurbanisation can be viewed as an extension of
suburbanisation. However there is in increase in people moving to the countryside because
jobs are also doing so.…read more

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Agriculture has adapted to an increased, more affluent rural population with more
leisure time. Enterprises such as `pick your own' and `non farming' activities such as
adventure parks and riding stable are increasing due to new demand.
2. Social
a. Population structures have changed. Settlements that have attracted commuter
families now have a younger population, whilst favourite retirement destinations
have an ageing population.…read more

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When the electric railway became the basis for the Metro system in 1980, the town
became even more popular with commuters encouraging further counterurbanisation from the city.
Re-urbanisation: the movement of people back to live in old city centres which have been
Since the 1970s there have been many initiatives aimed at regenerating inner areas of towns and
cities in the UK.…read more

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Urban Decline and Regeneration within Urban Areas
During the Industrial revolution people moved from the country to cities, however subsequent
economic change left cities economically vulnerable after the population boom. At the end of WW2
suburbanisation was encouraged by taxing the city people and therefore encouraging building in the
racially restricted suburbs `white flight'; only the non-white and poor inhabited the cities. Desolate
properties abandoned in the cities are socially dangerous as they attract criminals and street gangs.…read more


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